November 29

Great inspiration from the Girls Schools Association annual conference

Last week, I spent a valuable two days with the Heads of Girls Schools throughout the UK at the Girls’ Schools’ Association annual conference.

I heard a wonderful range of presenters with lots of ideas to bring back to Blackheath High School, including the inspiring Dany Cotton, Chief of the London Fire Brigade, who spoke very movingly about the challenges she has faced since the Grenfell Fire incident and the passion and commitment she has for her role. She really is a wonderful female role model for the girls.

Sir Robert Winston also gave a very entertaining presentation on the value of good STEM provision in schools and the importance of providing ALL students with the scientific literacy to make informed decisions and moral judgements in whatever roles lie in their future: politician; artist or scientist. Perhaps not surprisingly, he lamented the decline of music provision in the state sector, citing the persuasive scientific evidence that learning music as early as 2 years old can have a powerful effect on brain development. If you have not already seen it, I recommend this amazing clip of a two year old from Kyrgyzstan, fully immersed in her church choir that he showed to illustrate his point.

We are already convinced of the importance of both of these curriculum areas at Blackheath High School, but it was reassuring to hear confirmation of what we know. It was most heartening to see Sir Winston demonstrating his commitment to STEM education through the ‘Reach Out’ Lab designed to bring children from deprived areas into Imperial College to be involved first-hand. It was clear that the enriching and well-resourced STEM education provided at schools like BHS is sadly not available to students more widely.

Life in school is action-packed and we are building towards a joyful end of term. Our Year 11 and 13 students have been busy with GCSE mocks and university applications respectively. I have been impressed with the mutual support the girls offer to each other and I know the Year 11 students in particular will be looking forward to a restorative holiday when it arrives. I wish the girls heading off to Oxbridge and medical interviews this week the very best of luck; I know they will do themselves proud. This weekend also sees the final award ceremony for our SHINE project. This is a Saturday school, led by Mrs Gunton and a crack team of Year 12 students and staff, provided for under-privileged pupils from local schools. Not only is this an important way for our girls to give back to our local community but it has also been invaluable leadership experience for our own students; I am very proud of them indeed.

Some final congratulations to Annabel in Year 6, whose design has been chosen to feature on the GDST Christmas card this year. Also to our U14 Hockey XI who represented us admirably at the GDST Hockey Rally at Royal High School Bath last weekend. Great spirit and huge development by this squad, who I am sure were inspired by guest speaker Helen Richardson-Walsh.


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